David, Katie, Christan, and Jonathan

My friend, Linda, leaves today to go to Rwanda. She's planning on being there for at least two years. When her blog is up and running, and I have access to it, I'll try to link it so you can leave her words of encouragement and read about her adventures.

I am so proud of her for making this commitment. Please pray for her safety, for friendships, for God to give her strength, and for favor with the people of Rwanda.

I found this article (click) online today. Please read it if you have a chance. And pray for Linda as she goes to minister and spread the love of Christ to a land and people that experienced a severe wound and are in deep need of healing (both physical and emotional).

I don’t like fax machines. They take too long to send information and you can just as easily scan a document and send it. Completely the same principle.

Think of how much time is spent in the world using these phrases:

“Did you get my fax?”
“Oh no! My fax didn’t go through!”
“I’ll resend the fax.”

Why not just scan it? It’s a lot more realiable, and less easy to lose.

Join with me. Ban the fax. Scanning is in. Faxing is out.

Now, what in the world do we do with all the excess fax machine trash? I guess it could join the Large Screen Graveyard--next to the Apple IIe and IBM Cemetery.

My niece, Marissa, is a nature lover. At the age of 10, she is already a dog whisperer. She studies about all types of animals through internet research. Over the weekend, she wanted to find a male toad, so she could breed toads.

So, she, Emily, and I searched my mom's yard for toads. Not frogs. Toads. Emily and I kept getting distracted by lightning bugs, but Marissa was quick to redirect us. We never found a toad for her toad habitat. If you find one, please let me know.

To tell a toad from a frog, you'll need to kiss it. If it's a frog, you'll get a prince; if it's a toad, you'll just need to use an antibacterial wipe and place it in a toad habitat.

For some reason, it kind of feels like the last day of school.

In the beginning, Leslee had this phone:

She ignored all the laughter from bystanders about her phone, and used it with pride for many, many, many years while the rest of us had gone through about five cell phones. Now, since Nextel & Sprint joined forces, Leslee got to get a new phone. It was time. Way, way past time.

Congratulations, Leslee!

-I got a bonus at work.

-I almost got plowed from behind by a Tahoe from stopping at a yellow light. Apparently the drivers plan was for both of us to be renegades together, and I changed my mind. She went ahead and ran the light after almost killing me, swerving, and then driving on through.

-Our refrigerator cooling problem was finally solved. Now milk products can survive in the frig.

-Our garage and whole house got really stinky because of melted ice cream in the trash can. And then I cleaned it out and dumped the stinky stuff in the ditch across the street.

-We had a company picnic at work furnished by pretty-Goode Co. I got a free t-shirt and ice cream, too.

-My friend, Ann, and I played Monopoly and remained friends.

-I tried out a new budget system.

-I discovered I am able to afford a wedding because Target sells wedding dresses. I just don’t want a discounted groom.

-I watched both the last shows of The Bachelor and American Idol. I’m so glad I just joined in for the finals and not the whole season. That’s a lot of time I would have wished to have bought back.

Yesterday, I went to the dentist. I put on a pair of sunglasses and then a set of headphones connected to a small radio I clutched in my hand. It was playing Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I laid back in the chair, and then the dentist started drilling on my decay. She thought I only had surface decay, but after I started squirming a bit and making strange “eauhh” noises, she decided that I might need to be numbed. She used a q-tip with a special solution to numb my gums, and then left the room. I immediately tried to find KSBJ, Christian radio (somewhat cheesy at times, but I needed something to keep me focused on God).

The doctor came back to finish the job of numbing me. This time, with something stronger. She said, “Close your eyes” in her Eastern European accent. I closed my eyes. But for some reason, I snuck a peak. And what I saw will forever be burned into my mind. No person should go into any type of dental procedure without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The needle was larger than I thought possible. The dentist was hovered over me with a very intent look in her eyes that penetrated through the face mask and protective glasses. After administering another shot on the other side of my mouth, she left me to let the medicine take effect.

Suddenly, I felt very tired. A few weeks earlier, my mom had told me a story about her friend’s niece that died in the dentist chair. My mind flashed to that story, but I realized I was at peace with life and God. Maybe it was time. The chair felt nice. I could just slip away. But I knew I had to fight for my life. This wasn’t the time. And this wasn’t the way. And I wasn’t really dying. I just have an over-active imagination.

Things went okay. I had three areas of decay filled. I’m fighting the good fight of life and this decay thing with tooth and nail (or with toothbrush and floss). My teeth nor my spirit shall see eternal decay. (Perhaps not exactly theologically sober, but I needed a dramatic ending.)

This weekend, I turned left from Westheimer to Kirby. The signal light was a nice green and then quickly turned yellow as I entered the lane, and perhaps was red as I was midway through. As my memory recollected a camera-type device that was perched atop the traffic light, I began to turn green, yellow, and then red, much like a kid that ate something in Willy Wonka’s candy factory.

Hopefully, I’m safe because I checked the map today of the most recently posted cameras. I don’t know if I agree with this Big Brother system or not. For starters, it takes away cops’ self-esteem and sense of victory. What cop doesn’t love catching someone running a traffic light? And then, what else are those cameras picking up? Am I going to get a photo of myself in the mail from the River Oaks Police for improper usage of a finger while driving ("If you can see in the photo called Exhibit A, I’m really just scratching my nose")? [okay, okay, that was gross, but I’ve seen plenty of people committing that offense.]

Houston does have a million and one people that enter intersections on red lights which is very, very dangerous. So, I guess I’ll let the city test this new method. And I’ll do my best to be a safe driver--especially in areas with cameras.

I registered my Starbucks gift card that I received for my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed using my card, and on the day it was drained dry, the barista asked if she wanted me to throw it away. I said, “Sure.”

Little did I know, that “sure” was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. This was one time in life when I wished I had been unsure.

A few days later, I received a postcard in the mail from Starbucks telling me I was the recipient of $5 which was added onto my giftcard automatically.

“Superman, fly back in time to erase my wrong! Bill & Ted, I need your phone booth! Calgon, take me away!”

Today, on my new quest for new budgeting methods, I purchased a $10 Starbucks card for myself. I kind of hoped I would get lucky again, and then get another free $5. Well, by a miracle, I finally remembered my registered login name to the Starbucks website. Then, I registered the card, called the lost card hotline, and now I have the $5 back!

So, tip of the day: register your Starbucks giftcard. And don’t throw it away!

At lunch today after my friend returned from the restroom:

Me: Ohmiga! Did you know Shriek was on Celebrity Fit Club? I just saw it.
Her: Shriek?
Me: Yes! Shriek! From Saved By the Bell, you know. He’s on Celebrity Fit Club.
Her: You mean, Screech?
Me: Oh, yeah. Oh ga. Yeah.
Her: I think you were combining “Shrek” and “Screech,” I didn’t know what in the world you were talking about.
Me: I think it’s my mom-zheimers. That sounded just like my mom.

Please don't tell my mom about this post. :)

I’ve been trying to read a one-year Bible this year. It gives different passages of the Bible everyday, and at the end of the year, you’ve read the Bible. I’ve never read the whole Bible, so this is pretty exciting.

This morning I read a section in Judges and my eyes were wide, because I had just stumbled on one of the first 00s in the Bible. His name is Ehud. He was a Judge, and the story is not for children (well, maybe it is, because it’s in the Bible).

Click and read.
Sometimes reading the Bible feels like getting on the treadmill, and at other times, I don’t want to stop reading it. I wish I had that hunger for it more often. I love the Bible. Yes, that’s the book for me. The B-I-B-L-E.

(Not that God needed me to right a Biblical book review; I just meant to say: Read the word. It’s amazing.)

One of the benefits of moving is now I have a more constant room temperature, and I can get a betta fish. Throughout college I always had bettas. I had Elmo and Fabio—and my roommate Robin had Amazing Larry and Nervous Charlie (she got Amazing Larry after I found the Polaroid on the kitchen table of Bob, my goldfish, floating in the toilet). I also had one in my fourth grade classroom. The kids named him Skipper.

Skipper was great fun. The kids in my class wrote stories about how Skipper made it to our classroom. They were really funny. The kids’ favorite thing to do was to tell me that Skipper was dead. His bowl would be over my shoulder while I was reading to them, and they would say, “Miss Richards! Miss Richards! Skipper’s dead!” So, I’d stop reading and tap on the bowl behind me to find out he was just sleeping. He was really good at playing dead. The janitors fell for his antics, too. Every afternoon they would repeat, “Your fish is dead.” They wouldn’t believe me until I proved to them he was actually capable of moving.

I haven’t decided on a new name for my betta yet, and I’m not asking for suggestions. Part of the fun of having a pet is getting to name it (just like children). But I am asking for help on where to purchase my fish. I don’t know much about Houston fish stores.

I also am thinking about starting a Betta Club. I know there was one at my high school. If you’re interested in joining, let me know. But you must have a Betta to be a member.

Last fall, my friend’s dad died, so I went to the funeral in West Texas. At the cemetery, I started a conversation with her older cousins about BBQ. I told them that Texas didn’t have good BBQ, and that Kentucky was where it’s at. They created such a ruckus that people turned and stared. They would have had a throw-down with me over it if I hadn’t been wearing a dress. People are partial to their barbeque. Note to self: don’t talk about barbeque with Texans at a funeral.

MSN had an article today about the best BBQ in the world. They left off the most important spot, but I read comments (condensed below) and found out that the Kentucky people will not be silent about their barbeque—because it’s the best.

Andros270:If you want some real BBQ come to Owensboro, KY it's a small town but it should be named BBQ capital of the world…l BBQ in Owensboro is delicious… some places to look for are Moonlite BBQ, Old Hickory, and George's BBQ, I like Old Hickory personally, but you should judge for yourself!

Patriotic 2: …I am a Kentucky boy …Old Hickory in Owensboro, Ky. is the bomb for bbq mutton…

Dlsfuture1: OK. Let's set the record straight! I was born and raised in Western Kentucky and there is absolutely no better BBQ than what you can get in Owensboro, Hopkinsville, Paducah, Cadiz, and Madisonville, Bowling Green, and so on. The different style of bbq Mutton (sheep) and Kentucky Burgoo (similar to Brunswick Stew in GA.), pork and beef cannot be found anywhere else. The taste and smell of good KY bbq and burgoo is one that you'll never forget no matter where you go.

Bentnotbroken: …Our burgoo is out of this world… The first bite of really good burgoo brings just one or two tears to your eyes, but not too spicy for anyone. My daughter was eating it at 18 months and still is at 22 years.

We all grew up singing the song (Jen, I know you know it—and I need help with the exact words):

“Moonlite Bar-B-Q, down on Parrish Avenue.
You’ll see what I mean, all meat good and lean.
Owenboro, Kentucky is the Bar-B-Q capitol of the world.
Come on down and bring the whole crew, to Moonlite Bar-B-Qyouuuuuuu.”

--Just fyi, Old Hickory is the best for chopped mutton, and Moonlite has the best chopped pork. And burgoo is good from everywhere. (I also love Moonlite’s cornbread muffins.) Because of this, I will never be a vegan.

I have a great friend with the same name as me, and she’s super cool. She’s got a myspace and probably a facebook, and I don’t know what else. Last week, I get an e-mail from her asking if I am her friend, so I click “yes,” because she’s my friend. Well, the e-mail said I had been “tagged.” Sounds harmless enough, right? So, I added a picture thinking it just went on her profile. It’s me and my mom at my Super Sweet 16x2.

Next thing I know, I have now received over 30 e-mails with comments as such [kid readers, ask your parents permission before reading this]:

[Attached w/ a pic of a cop] “I pulled you over because you are in the possession of hotness.”

“Nice cake. Nice tiara. You a natural redhead?”

I really want to write back that I’m not the one in the tiara, but I think my mother would not be so happy with me if she ever found out.

I’m doing my best to un-tag myself right now. I’d prefer not to have to delete my e-mail. So far, the people who want to be “friends” are ages 20-51 with pics ranging from wearing a trucker hat and making a muscle to a total goth with multiple piercings. Maybe I’ll be able to find my long-lost kindergarten best friend, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

This is from my sweet friend, Robin's wedding from her photographer. This is her and her daddy at the rehearsal dinner. That's all I can say about it because I'm trying to find my tissue.

Way back one time when I had a steady, we were picking out some music, and I said, “Oh! Harry Connick, Jr. He’s my favorite! Let’s get this!”

And the beau said, “So when you listen to this, will you be thinking about him or me?”

I said, “Uh…you?” with my fingers crossed.

We bought some other stinky jazz CD that I got stuck with after all the dust settled. Poor Harry’s CD stayed at the store.

But tonight, we will reunite as he sings and I listen and think about him (but being conscious he is a married man and a dad). I am so excited.

At the age of 15, my mother was concerned about me because all my friends listened to groups like Poison and I liked HC, Jr. I fell in love with him listening to his soundtrack to When Harry Met Sally, and I haven’t been picked up yet—still in love. (But only with the voice because he is a married man and a dad, and he had those bizarre cameos on Will & Grace.)

I kind of like the name Boutros Boutros. It’s so fun to say. If I married Todd Richards, I could be Beth Richards-Richards. Not as much fun to say, but the same concept. –No worries ladies, Todd is still a free-agent. Our marriage contract isn’t legal until 2025.

My blog messed up yesterday. I don’t know what the HTML happened.

Somebody totally blessed me at work today with two bottles of water. Since I work in a BYOW environment, this was worth gold.

I might be getting a cold, so does that mean I’m sick enough to take a sick day? Why does this seem exciting?

AirShield by CVS (orange flavor) tastes disgusting. The extra dollar for Airborne is worth it.

Would it be weird to wear a Camelpack at my desk?

One word: Roomba. Stephanie says it’s cool, and I saw it in action. I want this and DDR for Christmas.

My niece’s birthday is Saturday, and I haven’t got her a present yet. It’s tough always being the cool aunt. What’s cool for a 17-year old these days? I can’t believe Christanchewan the Mighty will be 17.

My friend, Robin, was getting hitched this past Saturday, so I got to load up the suitcase, catch a plane, rent a car, and head to Viva La Ashe-Vegas. Well, actually, to Black Mountain, and then later got to hang in Asheville.

The wedding was wonderful. Lots of Mexican food. Lots of contra dancing. Lots of sweet memories remembered.

I got to spend time with my friend, Brad, and his wife, Leigh. They took such good care of me and fed me cookies which I couldn’t stop eating, ice cream, and cinnamon rolls. I kept thinking maybe they were trying to fatten me up like Gretel, but it was worth it! They even transformed a room into a perfect little guest room for me.

On Sunday, I went to Gravy & Peas Church with Brad and Leigh. It’s a church I went to for about six months before I left Asheville. In the old meeting place, there were couches in the back to sit on. The new location in a multicultural center building is a little more posh. Afterwards, I hung out with Leigh and went to shops,
drove to check on my old place (3rd floor bedroom hanging off building was mine),

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and also drove up the mountain on Sunset Parkway.

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It was so good to see a ton of my old friends. Some of them I hadn’t seen in seven years. Most of them had babies or toddlers, and the energy exerted to keep up with those little ones made me tired just watching them. It also kind of scared me to think I could be much older when I go through that stage with my currently non-created kids. I’m starting a nanny fund right now. Forget the 401K.

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Yesterday, I decided to take a hike. I did not have on appropriate hike-wear or a day pack with the recommended first aid kit in it, but I did have some tennies and a camera.

Perhaps it wasn’t the safest thing to do in the whole world, but it was so great to climb to the top of a mountain. Things like that don’t happen often here in Houston.

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The hike was well worth it, and I’m so glad I got to soak up the sun at the top.

Thanks to all my friends who took care of me on the trip. I wish I could see you all more often. And Asheville, sweet Asheville, thanks for the rest, peace, and groovy kind of love you ooze.

Things I Want but I Really Don’t Need:

An ipod
A pair of Reefs
A phone with querty keys
ibook laptop
A tall soy chai latte
The perfect pink nail polish
Trish McEvoy Lip Gloss & No. 9 perfume

Things I Had to Have and I Really Don’t Use:

Ipod Shuffle
Starbucks Mug

Things that Kids in Poverty I Saw in Kenya Needed:

Shoes (no brand specified)
Clothes (no brand specified)
Food (none specified)
Parents (no specifics specified)

I’m trying to come to grips with my materialistic tendencies.

Edamame is a tasty, protein treat. Remember not to look silly when eating edamame for the first time by not eating the pod—only eat the bean.

Remember: Edamame. Fun food. Don’t eat the pod. And don't actually shoot yourself or a friend in the face with a popping bean.

A lady that works in another office across the hall was questioning me about the Fat Boy box while I was washing my hands in the restroom.

Nice Lady: “Did someone in your office get a Fat Boy chair?”
Me: “No. My co-worker just likes boxes, so she took it about a month ago and was storing it. It’s the same box. What’s a Fat Boy chair?”
Nice Lady: “Oh! You’ve got to see it! Come with me!”

So, we went to see the Fat Boy. She uses it for her office chair, and I have to admit it, I was jealous. It was the same feeling I felt when I saw Krystal in second grade wearing the Michael Jackson red leather jacket with all the zippers: Cool for her. Unattainable for me.

The Fat Boy website is cool and has two very fun games. Do not play them while working for the man. They are for home use only.

My Starbucks cup today was a huge quote about how “heaven is totally overrated” and “it seems totally boring.”

It made me feel sad for this guy. All I could think of was that this guy needs to get a life, or maybe more accurately, he needs to get a death (with a life after it). If not, he’ll definitely be missing out.
God’s Word says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 -
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"

My hope is in Jesus Christ, and I believe in heaven. I had lunch with a friend a few months back who told me the story that is told in the book 90 Minutes in Heaven. We both cried as we kind of both came to terms with our fathers both being deceased, and trusting that they are both in heaven. After my dad died, I had to come to terms with what I really and truly believed about the afterlife. After struggling through all the thoughts, my faith grew and I know heaven is real in a way we can’t possibly imagine.

Sometimes, I get troubled in my heart because if I believe it’s real, then why do I sometimes give a millisecond of worry or frustration about things that which will pass away? I think one of the most frustrating part about being a Christian is coming to terms with the fact that we don’t “arrive,” and that we’re continually “in process.” Not to say that we don’t “grow.” But we’re still just humans who have been shown grace and mercy.

Jesus called heaven paradise. Not “cloud city,” but paradise.

Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

I’m sure heaven in a whole lot cooler than anything we could think of on Earth. I’ve seen amazing things on this earth, and this is only Earth. We can’t conceive it. But we must have faith to believe it.

God, please give that man eyes to see. And a heart that can believe.

It takes me until about 9:30 to realize my office chair is not the right height. I’m trying to figure out if it moves slowly throughout the day, or if Goldilocks is sitting at my desk at night. And why is my porridge missing?

Somebody's birthday is on May 12th.

I needed a massage. Last night, Young Life was canceled, so I decided to find someone somewhere to help get the tension out of my neck from moving and life.

There’s a grocery store in town that has a chair massage center, and it’s enclosed. I get kind of freaked out by the thought of relaxing in a chair in front of millions of bystanders, so I was glad this massage chair was a little more private.

I had tender spots all in my neck and my masseuse rubbed them all out. I feel like a new woman. (Okay, maybe a little dramatic.)

My co-worker just had her first massage yesterday for her birthday. I really wish I could tell you what she said about her massage, but this is a family-friendly blog. It’s been a quite entertaining day.

I have a new piggy bank, and I was going to save up for clothes, but now, I’ve decided to save up for spa services.